Journey to Havana

 

We were very happy to get to travel to Cuba in December 2013.  It was a rare chance for two teachers like us to travel outside of peak travel season.  We decided to go to the Paradisus Varadero Resort and Spa, an all-inclusive resort in Varadero, Cuba.  Varadero is about a two-hour drive from Havana, but we were determined to make it to the capital of Cuba during our visit.  Also, we were not able to go on one of the tour group excursions the hotels offer, so we wanted to go on a privately guided tour.  We determined, in consultation with our Sunwing Vacations representative, that the best way to make it work was to hire a taxicab for the entire day.

The day arrived and our driver/tour guide for the day was Luis Altez Linares.  We asked our vacation representative to get THE BEST driver to give us a tour of Havana.  Luis was whom he hooked us up with.  We were not disappointed, he spoke wonderful English (as our Spanish is not good at all), he had good information on the spots to go and a fair bit of the history of the buildings and, as an added bonus his car had air conditioning.  Luis was super friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed talking with him all about his country.  If you are looking to get a taxi in Varadero, we highly recommend you ask for Luis.

Cuba - Road to Havana

On the Road to Havana

Once we arrived in Havana, we wanted to immediately head to the 16th century Centro historico (historical center), whose character and unity of building structures has been largely unchanged for centuries (and is labeled a UNESCO Heritage site). The vibrant, colourful buildings have been updated, but no new buildings have been introduced for generations.  We loved just strolling through the narrow streets and quaint plazas and taking pictures of Old Havana.  We spent a large part of our day in Havana just wandering these streets both in the tourist area and among the people of Havana, who were all so friendly to us.Cuba - Old Havana

Cuba - Old Havana plazaWe spent a small portion of our day checking out “New Havana,” which is mostly made up of 75-year-old buildings.  We did not have enough time left in the day to see much of this part, but we did manage to check out the food.  We were taken to La Casa restaurant, which our driver recommended.  The building did not look like much from the outside, but it was beautiful on the inside (with a surprisingly modern design).  They had a creative way of offering food. They had a set menu price of 18 convertible Cuban pesos to order an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert of your choice.  And the best part of all…the food was delicious, which was not a common theme in Cuba.

Cuba - Lunch at La Casa Havana, Cuba

Amazing lunch at La Casa!

Cuba - New Havana

A view from “New Havana”

We also loved the Cuban tradition of maintaining classic cars for generations.  We thought it looked so cool to walk amongst these old buildings and be surrounded by cars from the 1950s.  It really gave us the feel of going back in time!

Capitol Building, Havana, CubaWe were so happy we got to experience what Havana had to offer and would not hesitate to go back and learn a little more about it in the future!

What is your favourite historic destination around the world?

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6 Responses to Journey to Havana

  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience. We took a cab ride in Peru and loved it. The locals are the best source of information and local finds!
    Angela recently posted..2013 Travel Round UpMy Profile

    Angela January 7, 2014 at 9:32 am Reply
    • It really was a great experience. Just listening to our cab drivers’ take on things was interesting and educational plus we never would have found that restaurant on our own!

      evan&tracy January 7, 2014 at 10:27 pm Reply
  2. Sounds like a fabulous trip – I love that you made it a priority to visit some of the historical locations.

    Adina | Gluten Free Travelette January 7, 2014 at 9:44 am Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Adina! We really enjoy learning the history of the places we visit and although this was a very short visit to Havana, we definitely didn’t want to miss those great historic sites.

      evan&tracy January 7, 2014 at 10:28 pm Reply
  3. Neat, I’ll be going to Cuba next December and planning on spending at least three days in Havana. I can’t wait to see the old cars and the city. I’ll have to try to check out the restaurant you went to.
    Megan recently posted..Celebrating my champagne birthdayMy Profile

    Megan January 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm Reply
    • Wow, 3 days in Havana will be fantastic, Megan! We can not speak highly enough of the restaurant, the food was delicious and the staff were so friendly, even showing us pictures of their family on their cell phones lol.

      evan&tracy January 7, 2014 at 10:31 pm Reply

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